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ALTERNATE ENERGY: Hydrogen — the fuel of future aviation

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We take air travel for granted today. However, it is adding to the carbon foot print at an exceedingly high pace. Commercial air transportation accounts for 2% of all CO2 emissions, and it is increasingly more popular. At any given time there are more than 1 million people in the air over the planet. In 2019 there were 4.6 billion air passengers, and according to Neste, a refining and marketing company concentrating on low-emission, high-quality traffic fuels, that number will double by 2037. Ergo, aviation is the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions. So what to do?

There are four main concerns with the design of aircraft: weight, propulsion, aerodynamics and configuration.

As for weight, I have no doubt that plastics will achieve the strength of titanium in the not too distant future. Plastics will at least accommodate the body and the wings to minimize the weight. However, plastic won’t help the engine. Heat is the issue.

Propulsion has as much to do with materials as the body and wings. But taking the liquid hydrogen from a liquid to the intake gas under huge pressure so it can be burned by the turbine engine is a challenge.

Aerodynamics is another issue that all aircraft designers take into consideration. All aircraft face the same situations of the ever-changing air currents in flight. There is talk of a shape-changing aircraft that can enhance flight performances.

Then there’s configuration — what should the jet look like when completed? Will it have that “je ne sais quoi” when ready for the public?

In my (very) humble opinion, if we are to curb CO2 emissions in all transportation we must settle on a fuel that is renewable, safe for distribution, adaptable for distribution, plentiful,........

© Finger Lakes Times

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